Authoritarianism and Indigenous peoples in the development of forensic genetic technologies

A powerful new class of forensic genetic technologies being adapted by security agencies, called next generation sequencing (NGS) or massively parallel sequencing, have been sharply criticized by a number of scholars for resurrecting once discredited racial categories. We might see NGS technologies in other terms, as well: They have been developed through authoritarian assemblages that can be seen as violating Indigenous people’s sovereignty, self-determination and rights, and they are now elements of cooperative ventures with repressive Chinese state security agencies.

The concepts of Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty underpin major transformations in genetic research laws, ethics and protocols involving Indigenous peoples over the last 25 years. Conflicts of the mid-1990s over the Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP) and related struggles over mass violations of ethics and consent transformed and partially decolonized research relations, leading to concepts like “DNA on loan” and ongoing informed consent, particularly over secondary usages. Many researchers, though, continue to use samples collected in the old regime, to avoid negotiations with Indigenous peoples.

Read the full article in the Transmissions blog

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